Once the race
started, I was able to move from 32nd to 6th in about 15 or 20 laps.
Our custom engine from Performance Technology was really strong,
and I felt real comfortable in the truck. Because of the high speeds,
racing at Daytona is not necessarily a walk in the park. The viewers
on television see a vehicle that appears fairly stable, while in
actuality, the truck is buffeted by the wind, and moves around quite
a bit. The high banking allows us to keep our foot to the floor
pretty much the whole way around the track, lifting only to go into
the pits, or to take evasive action (if necessary).
Geoffrey Bodine wreck happened all around us, and I could actually
feel the heat from the huge fireball..."
I was very fortunate,
because I pretty much avoided all the major accidents throughout
the day. The Geoffrey Bodine wreck happened all around us, and I
could actually feel the heat from the huge fireball seen on the
instant replays. The weird thing is, a good driver doesn't panic
when they see all heck breaking loose in front of them. I kept my
foot on the floor, and concentrated on driving through the mess.
If I were to suddenly lift and/or hit the breaks, I would have run
the risk of having somebody run into the back of me, adding my truck
to the list of casualties. As the big wreck happened, we had a truck
slide right across the track in front of me. My windshield got oil
all over it, and I hit a piece of debris on the track, knocking
off part of the nose assembly. Considering the fact that this was
the absolute worst wreck I have ever seen, I felt extremely lucky
to remain in the race.
The wreck caused
tons of damage to the catch fence in the tri-oval, forcing NASCAR
to red flag the race. The race was actually stopped and the trucks
had to park on the track, away from the pits. While the trucks could
not get service from their pit crew, I remained in constant radio
contact with our crew chief Jerry Cook (yes... he's my brother),
who got the crew started on a sort of "band-aid" for the truck's
nose. When the pits finally opened a couple of hours later, we got
the nose fixed (sort of), and we hoped to be back in the hunt for